Organisations promoting digital skills initiatives urged to apply for funding
Organisations promoting initiatives to drive digital skills for young people have been invited to apply for funding from a Scottish charity.
Digital Xtra Fund, a not-for-profit backed by both the public and corporate sectors, has awarded £725,000 in funding to digital skills initiatives since it was launched in 2016, helping schools and organisations engage nearly 45,000 young people.
The charity is hoping to back a series of new projects in 2022-23 after making a fresh round of grants available.
Kraig Brown, Digital Xtra Fund’s partnerships and development manager, said: “Our mission is for every young person in Scotland to have access to inspiring and meaningful digital tech activities regardless of their gender, background, or where they live.
“Everyone realises that digital skills are absolutely integral to the success of our future economy – and to the future success of our young people too – but at the same time, commentators agree that the state of computing science in our schools is behind the curve to achieve these successes. That should be worrying for all of us – government, industry, educators, parents, young people, the whole gambit. We need to do more and soon.”
In 2021, the charity worked with government and industry partners to identify, finance, and support 22 initiatives for young people aged 16 and under – ranging from coding clubs at four schools in Angus, a ‘Games for Good’ programme at Heart of Midlothian FC’s Innovation Centre in Edinburgh, introducing hundreds of young people to cyber security at Aberdeen Science Centre, and a Cop26-related collaboration around climate tech with SCDI’s Young Engineers and Science Clubs.
Baillie Gifford, Chroma Ventures, JP Morgan, Cirrus Logic, Accenture, Incremental Group, and ScotlandIS have all committed to supporting Digital Xtra Fund again in 2022-23; and the charity plans to announce further financial supporters over the next few weeks.
Brown added: “We are currently lining up this year’s funding from both the public and private sectors, which will allow us to deliver even more this year and next. By scaling up, we can start to build critical mass and become even more impactful.”
“It is also no longer enough to just teach young people how to use technology, we need to show them how it can be applied to real life – particularly in areas such as climate tech or health tech where it can make such a positive impact. Supporting innovative and meaningful projects is key to inspiring the next generation of digital leaders.
“Engaging with industry to help provide this context and guidance is also increasingly important. Yes, there are a lot of moving parts and it isn’t always easy linking those parts together, but we are talking about a fundamental change to the education and skills landscape for young people – of course it will be challenging. But it has to happen and Digital Xtra Fund is at the forefront of that change.”